Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Aggressive Cost Cutting in Store for Lexmark Enterprise Software

Lexmark reported its Q2 2015 earnings today. Overall, Lexmark reported $891M in non-GAAP revenue and $139M in earnings. Apparently, Wall Street traders were not impressed with these numbers along with lowered earnings forecasts, as Lexmark shares were down more than 20% in early trading. I don't pretend the understand the complete dynamics of Lexmark's business, but I do follow its Enterprise Software division fairly closely, and this was the first quarter it reported that includes any revenue and income from Lexmark's Kofax acquisition, which closed on May 21.

For Q2, Lexmark reported $150M in total Enterprise Software revenue, with margins of 20%. On the surface, this looks great, considering that Lexmark's Enterprise Software margins for 2014 were around 5%. But, if you look closely, the Kofax Q2 operating margins are listed at 42.6%, which has something to do with the timing of the acquisition. Apparently, some Kofax operating expenses in areas like IT, finance, HR, facilities, and legal and corporate staffing were charged to "All Other," instead of Enterprise Software.

"The software segment benefited from the timing of the Kofax closing which coincided with the most profitable portion of what is traditionally Kofax’s strongest quarter," explained David Reeder, VP and CFO, of Lexmark in an analyst call. "Kofax added $48 million of revenue and $20 million of operating income to second quarter results." (Quotes are from the Seeking Alpha transcript of the analyst call.)

When you take Kofax out, Enterprise Software reported operating margins of 9.8%, which is not great, but is an improvement over what we've seen historically from the Enterprise Software group. And, of course, we all know that Lexmark has set a goal of exiting 2016 with 25% operating margins for Enterprise Software. So, how does it get there?

In conjunction with today's quarterly financials report, Lexmark announced plans to eliminate about 500 positions. "We are announcing a restructuring action today, the vast majority of which reflects the cost synergies targeted for the ReadSoft and Kofax integrations," announced Chairman and CEO Paul Rooke. "In total, we’re eliminating about 500 positions worldwide, primarily across the G&A, marketing, and development organizations with about one-third of the impacted positions being shifted to lower cost countries, and we expect to complete these actions by the end of 2016. Financially, these actions are expected to generate annualized savings of about $65 million in 2017, the vast majority of which will benefit the Enterprise Software segment."

Basically, it sounds like Lexmark is expecting to save more than $33M in operating expenses annually in Enterprise Software - as well as grow the division due to "revenue synergies." When you do all the math, this should work out to 15% operating margins for 2015 and 25% by the time 2016 ends.

Obviously, there are going to be some challenges growing Enterprise Software while simultaneously reducing headcount, but Lexmark at least has a vision to try and executive on. I feel badly that it sounds like many people in our industry are going to lose their jobs as part of this vision, but as document imaging and ECM gets subsumed into more general IT and larger organizations, this type of evolution is inevitable.

Now, I'm not saying Lexmark is guaranteed to succeed at what it has set out to do, specifically in terms of margins and more broadly in terms of transforming from a hardware player to establishing itself as a leader in the ECM space. But, I will say it's definitely worth watching - and I'm sure most of its competitors are. Lexmark is clearly betting big here. We should know the results of those bets in another couple years at the latest.